by Mike Topliff
SOCORRO, NM, Oct. 5, 2004 -- Twelve Socorro-area students are participating in the 15th annual New Mexico Adventures in Supercomputing Challenge, called "the Challenge" by those in the know. The students, all from Socorro High School, are Doug Haworth, Megan Pearson, Anthony Zecco, Scott Engler, Nathan Zecco, Bryan Haworth, Omar Soliman, Thor Johnson, Antonio Carrejo, Justin Greene, Emily Walker and Joshua Farmer.
Sponsors are Peggy Mitchusson from Socorro High School and Dr. Lorie Liebrock and Dr. Mike Topliff from New Mexico Tech.
The Challenge is a school-year long program where teams of middle school and high school students from around the state design and implement computer programs that model and simulate interesting real-world problems.
At the October Kickoff Conference at Glorieta Conference Center, students and teachers learn to write computer programs, collect, analyze and model data, write technical reports and develop sophisticated presentations.
Professional scientists and engineers from Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, New Mexico State University, the University of New Mexico, New Mexico Tech, Eastern New Mexico University, and private companies work with students and teacher-sponsors to provide initial and ongoing training in computational methods and scientific modeling. These volunteer professionals evaluate the students' project ideas, steer student teams towards successful completion of their work, and evaluate projects at mid-term and final judging events.
The Challenge year culminates in an expo, showing the work of all the teams who completed the program, and an awards ceremony in April at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where student scholarships and school computing equipment and software are presented by sponsoring organizations.
"As New Mexico and other states consider their workforce needs for the 21st century," says Topliff, "it has become increasingly obvious that the 7,500 plus students who have previously participated in the Challenge program are uniquely prepared for careers in high technologies industries. Challenge participants will benefit as our state colleges and universities and potential future employers are constantly seeking the technical and planning skills that the Challenge participants develop."